Vienna – The Home of the Habsburg Dynasty, Gustav Klimt and Wiener Melange

Vienna in three days promised to be a sensational short trip. First of all, we were very excited because of its striking history and, as a culinary icing of the cake, we were definitely looking forward to visit one of Viennese coffee houses to taste a piece of Sacher cake. Besides the tasty Austrian food, Vienna’s architecture is a must-see as well. Beautiful art-noveau buildings and splendid boulevards invite the visitor to stroll around the city. Furthermore, the atmosphere in Vienna is amazing. The people are friendly and helpful and although Vienna is rich in history, the city is very dynamic and offers many cultural programs for young people. Besides an outstanding nightlife, we wanted to see as many historic sights as possible. We started our first day with a walk around the Hofburg where we crossed the Josephplatz and the Heldenplatz. After a short break at the Palmengarten Café, where we had a cup of the famous Wiener Melange and a piece of Sacher cake, we visited the Sissi Museum and the Kaiserappartements in the Hofburg.

Palmengarten Café
Palmengarten Café
Palmengarten Café

Both exhibitions tell the story of Empress Elisabeth “Sissi” of Austria who is one of the most famous Habsburgs although she originates from the house Wittelsbach in Bavaria. Up to now “Sissi” is known for her beauty and a lot of movies about her life and her marriage to Emperor Franz Joseph I. were made within the last sixty years. In the exhibition, visitors can marvel at some of her dresses and learn about her life in Bavaria as well as her reign in Austria and Hungary.

Sissi’s Hairstyles
Staicase to the “Sissi-Museum”

After our “Sissi – filled” morning, we visited the Stephansdom and the Kunsthistorische Museum (art-history museum) which we can highly recommend. Although it is a bit outdated, it is worth visiting, since many famous paintings are presented in the picture gallery. In addition, the Egyptian collection is definitely another highlight, depicting Egyptian history from 2200 B.C. until 300 B.C.

Stephans Dom
Staircase at the “Kunsthistorisches Museum”
The Egyptology Exhibition

On our second day we visited Schloss Schönbrunn which used to be the summer residence of the royal family and is also known as the “Austrian Versailles”. It is a very beautiful and opulent palace where you can still see and feel the wealth and the power of the former Habsburg dynasty.


Finally we have to admit that our trip to Vienna was a bit hectic because we wanted to see as much as possible in only three days, but we will definitely come back for a longer stay since we fell in love with this beautiful, historical city and, of course, we need some more Wiener Melange and Sachertorte.

Hidden Gems: QC finds

Whenever I travel, I go off to random places. Other than typical tourists’ sites, I set aside a day for exploration. It usually starts from the supermarket or farmers market – after going through aisles and aisles products with familiar or unfamiliar names, I pick out the few bags of snacks that seem to be the most interesting and open them up right away to get a bite of every single one. Then I would spend the rest of the morning wandering around a neighborhood, camp out at an art museum, or sip on a flat white at a local eatery (preferably not the one with most comments on YELP but definitely with a 4.5 star rating or higher). And of course, with my camera. I want to fit in, to live the life of a local person on a day-off.

Here are a few favorite “it-just-so-happened” finds of the city: hidden gems that surely shall not be missed.

Chateau St. Louis tour: Hear about how the castle came to be. It’s a project procrastinated for 100+ years since its initial plan of construction. Yes, the ruins seem to be nothing more than brick walls, but give it an hour and try to imagine the hundreds of years that site has witnessed. Take a look at the diamond pin from past parties, the sealed, gold-coated silverwares and plates that archeologists spent months digging out, the handsome painting of overly obese governor by his amazing PR team of the time.

Address: Terrasse Dufferin, Quebec City, Quebec G1R 4P5, Canada

Chez Boulay Cafe: Recommended by locals. Someone has described Quebec as France plus UK divided by America. By that analogy, Quebec cuisine would be more or less like upscale French restaurant located in upper state New York with the proper service you would expect only in the UK – just try it for yourself.

This is the perfect place if you are not interested in a full-on meal. No matter you are looking for something like pure sugar, a breakfast croissant, a savory quiche, or a warm soup to bring you back to life from the cold, this is the place to be.

Address: 42 Côte du Palais, Québec, QC G1R 4H8, Canada

Ex Machina: A theatre reopened in September, Ex Machina has a few shows lined up for the rest of the year. It reminded me of the Shed at Hudson Yard in NYC. It’s a new interactive space that allows for dialogs between artists and viewers. The remarkable design, from the exterior reinvention of a historical site to the interior industrial elements and modern technology, give this place so much potential.

Address: 966 Rue Saint-Jean, Québec, QC G1K 4B9, Canada


Best way to explore QC: give it a few days. Other than the must-sees, just walk around – it’s a small enough place that makes everything easy. Take note of the restaurants and special stores and random art on the street. Then spend the afternoon walking down Rue de S. Jean outside of the Old City. Or if you a nature person, head over to the park and walk along the river, or get on a bike tour to the waterfall.







Legend of Regensburg

– Fat Agnes – 

In the free city of Regensburg lived Klara, the daughter of a tinsmith, who was usually called the “Liebfrauenbildlein”; because she was exceedingly beautiful in face and figure. She grew up to be, god-fearing, devote and honourable, as it befits a fine virgin.

One Sunday, when she returned home from the early mass, it happened that a stately nobleman came in her way; he was dressed in velvet and precious finery and wore a heavy gold chain on his chest and a beret with big feathers on his head. And when he saw the lovely maiden, he stopped and looked after her, almost shocked, until she went around the corner. The next Monday, according to her habit, Klara was at mass at St. Cassian’s, and when she stepped out of the church, the nobleman stood there and greeted her. And on Tuesday he greeted her again and suddenly put a little letter into her hand. Hence the virgin blushed deeply and thought she was holding a glowing coal between her fingers. But she did not want to drop the letter in fear of the gossip. Instead she carefully hid it in her scarf, with the intention of throwing it into the fire at home. And if she had done so, she would have been spared great suffering.

But in her small chamber she thought different, because she liked the delicately folded parchment, but especially the gold embroidered ribbon with which it was wrapped. And as she was pondering and turning the little letter back and forth in her hand, suddenly a little voice, like the chirping of a cricket, said to her: “Well, you foolish thing, why do you hesitate so long? Hot off the press! Dead letters don’t bite.” But whoever spoke like this? It was a tiny, barely inch-high woman, crouching in a corner at the fireplace. At first the maiden was horrified by the spook; but because the little one seemed to be untroubled and even acted friendly, she let herself be persuaded and reached for the scissors. And at the moment the tape was cut, the woman grew one finger length higher.

On Wednesday, Klärchen did not go to mass, but locked herself in her chamber as if she were ill. In the meantime, however, she looked for the letter again and read how the nobleman had developed a fierce love for her and could never let go of her and wanted to serve her as an honourable, honest suitor. Such a thing was written in the letter with even fancy words. And while she was still reading, the woman appeared again and cried, “Listen, my daughter! Don’t you hear the sound of spurs in the alley?” And Klärchen hurried to the window and saw the nobleman walking along. He noticed her hiding behind the curtain, because the lovesick have hawk’s eyes. And he greeted up, and she greeted down. But the woman giggled up her sleeve and was growing as high as a shoe, even though it had only been finger-length before.

Thursday, during the meal, the tinsmith scolded his daughter, “You dream in broad daylight and throw more salt into the soup than my palate would like, and the cat steals the meat from the pot before your very eyes.” Towards evening, in the twilight, the woman came back and carried a box of ebony under her arm and said, “Take it. It’s a memento from your suitor.” But Klara stepped back and replied: “Go away, temptress! A virtuous virgin shall not take gifts.”

Then the woman departed grumbling; but at the door she turned around again and said, “A gift is better than a purchase. Think well and see what you despise.” With these words the little woman opened the box, and – o glory! – Inside was a magnificent necklace of vain gold and richly set with pearls and precious stones. The flickering and sparkling enchanted Klärchen and her eyes began to sparkle too. She took the box and stepped in front of the mirror and enjoyed the finery very much. The woman applauded and shouted: “Now you may carry your nose as high as the Countess Monika does.” On Friday they went so far that the nobleman climbed over the garden wall in the darkness and came into the alcove for a little chat. – The little woman was already a cubit high today. – The nobleman talked quite intimately with the tinsmith’s daughter and told her even more beautiful things than he had written in the letter. Meanwhile the woman kept watch at the entrance of the alcove, and – lo and behold! – with every word of love and every handshake it grew an inch in height and an inch in thickness.

And when the couple stepped out of the alcove on Saturday, there stood a superhuman-sized woman with the circumference of a beer barrel. Klara was frightened and screamed, “What are you doing here, you brute?”; But the giantess just laugh loud and replied: “How, my daughter, do you not know your old friend anymore? I am Fat Agnes, and you have kept me well and fed me so much that I, at first a tiny thumb, have grown so tall and fat.”

It is to be known, however, that the fat Agnes was a hellish ghost, which was roaming the city at the time. Initially in the form of a thumb-length woman, it lured people from the right path by those idom and common phrases that guilty pleasure uses to gloss over its actions. And where it was not banned by prayer and devoutness, it stayed like a vampire and sucked itself full and prospered and grew to a ghastly monster.

Klärchen, poor Klärchen: After the nobleman had had his amusement with her for some time, he left her, not bothered by her reproaches and tears, and married the daughter of a rich family. Same things happened to other virgins who had been involved with Agnes, and some of them fell so low that their names were later found in the register of the Reichstag, who, as is well known, was entrusted with the care of the travelling prostitutes.

As far as the menfolk were concerned, the ghost especially seduced young people, who had untold amounts of money in their fingers. It whispered in their ear: “A few pennies will not harm your Lord – he does not feel it. A penny ain’t a silver coin!” Several of these bewitched journeymen started just with a grab into the cash register and ended up as highwaymen.

Such moral corruption made the wise council of Regensburg very much concerned, and they seriously thought about how to master the spook. Physical weapons, however, did not work on him, and so the venerable Minorite Monks were approached for aiding and abetting. According to the legend, they did not easily banish the ghost into the deep cellar of a desolate house at Bäckenspreng. It could still be heard whimpering and groaning for many years afterwards, to the horror of everyone passing by, in the time between the sounds of prayer and the crow of the rooster.

Bamberg – a secret diamond in the heart of Bavaria

For our first stop during our travels we visited Bamberg which is a small town in Bavaria. A lot of cultural and architectural sights are found there including world heritage. Especially the old town with its medieval and baroque buildings are worth a visit. You can stroll through the streets and around every corner are new, lovely and spectacular things to discover. When you walk through Bambergs old town you should look out for the little streets and alleys. A lot of wonderful small architectural details are to be found.

The world heritage center in Bamberg is a must-see. In its exhibition Bambergs’ material and immaterial cultural heritage are explained. Futhermore the exhibition is designed very interactive and with easy to understand information for young and old. Also two young women who take a voluntary year gave us a guided tour around Bamberg and showed us its most beautiful spots and sights. We visited the cathedrale which was founded by emperor Henry II. and his wife and empress Kunigunde. We not only saw the material world heritage but we also learned that Bamberg has immaterial culture such as smoked beer or liquorice which was a very important commodity for many centuries. Altogether Bamberg has 1340 monuments which is a variety of churchs, palaces or other architectural sights. Besides the cathedral we also visited the Rosegarden or the Obere Pfarre. The Obere Pfarre is a very beautiful catholic church which is firstly namend in an document in 1140.

During our visit we not only saw the old town and the sights but we also went to a lot of Museums Bamberg has to offer. Our Highlight was the Gärtner- und Heckermuseum which is a very small museum but its exhibition is made with love and care and is resident in an old house form the 18. Century which belonged to gardener family. Today it tells the story of living and working as such a family. In the backyard is a very gorgeous garden filled with flowers, herbs and vegetables. We can recommend a visit there.

All in all Bamberg is a very beautiful town with a great variety of cultural sights and immaterial culture and is definitely worth a visit.